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Why Is My Pothos Dying -? (Causes + What To Do)

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Pothos plants effortlessly bring a pop of color and a touch of nature into your home! They have become a popular trend among novice gardeners as they are incredibly straightforward plants to grow.

Although pothos can thrive in unfavorable conditions, they aren’t 100% immune to neglect or hostile environments.
Signs your pothos plant is dying can include root rot, drooping leaves, white spots on the stems and foliage, yellow or browning leaves, wilting foliage, leggy growth, and curling leaves. In addition, the most common causes of pothos are over-or-underwatering, fungal disease, and incorrect lighting.

brown pothos leaves

Pothos are some of the best plants to keep if you do not have a ton of time available to devote to plant care. However, despite being one of the most straightforward plants to care for, the plant can die from neglect or too much TLC. Here’s why your pothos is dying and what to do to reverse these effects.

Signs & Causes Your Pothos Is Dying

Even though the pothos is a hardy plant, we can sometimes struggle to keep it alive. To save dying pothos, we first need to identify the signs and the causes before finding a suitable treatment.

Here is an outline of the seven most common signs and causes of a dying pothos plant:

White spots on leaves and stemsFungal diseasesPests
Drooping leavesUnderwateringOverwateringLow humidityCold temperatures
Yellowing pothos leavesUnderwateringOverwateringLow light Overfertilization
Various leaves start turning brownOverwateringToo much light Overfertilization Cold temperaturesPests
Wilting of leavesUnderwateringOverwateringLow humidity Environmental stress
Leggy growthLow lightOverfertilization
Leaves have started curlingUnderwateringExcess light exposurePests

Let’s discuss in-depth each of the signs of a dying pothos:

White Spots On Leaves And Stems

White spots on pothos are typically from a fungal disease (powdery mildew) or pests like mealybugs or spider mites.

Powdery Mildew Can Cause White Spots

Powdery mildew is the number one culprit of white spots on the leaves and stems.

Powdery mildew is a fungal infection that appears as a white powder covering the foliage and stems. Powdery mildew is highly contagious and can quickly kill your pothos.


First, isolate the plant. Then, remove all the highly infested foliage or stems and apply an organic fungicide to the plant once weekly. More so, consider thinning out the pothos to improve air circulation.

Pests Can Cause White Spots

Mealybugs or spider mites can also cause a white powder on pothos.

Mealybugs typically have a white, cottony covering and mostly live in the crotches and undersides of the foliage.

Spider mites leave whitish webs that look like fine, white powder on the undersides of the plant’s leaves.


Wipe down the pothos with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. Repeat the treatment weekly until the plant is healthy.

Drooping Leaves Indicate A Dying Pothos

Drooping leaves are typical phases pothos plant face when we care too much or neglect it too often. However, we can fix the issue by identifying the cause early enough.

So, here are the four primary causes of drooping leaves:

Underwatering A Pothos Can Cause Droopy Leaves

A pothos enjoys drying out a tiny bit during watering sessions. However, an underwatered pothos will start to display weak and flaccid foliage, which will drop, indicating dying.

When the soil is parched, the roots have no access to water to spread it to the various parts. Then, due to the water scarcity, the plant uses the moisture stored in the foliage to survive.

The pothos leaves start to droop due to transpiration and loss of stored moisture.

You can quickly identify an underwatered pothos plant by testing the soil’s moisture levels. If it is scorched, underwatering is the culprit behind droopy pothos leaves.


Increase your watering schedule to allow the pothos to recover speedily. You can water the pothos more frequently during the recovery phase, allowing the plant to regain its moisture levels.

Deeply water your plant by allowing the water to seep through the bottom of the plant’s container. However, remember that it’s essential for the pot to have adequate drainage holes to prevent soggy soil and root rot.

Overwatering A Pothos Can Cause Droopy Leaves

Since the pothos is native to under-canopy environments, it appreciates some moisture.

However, it would help avoid giving too much water as it can result in various issues, including droopy leaves; it may even kill your plant.

The pothos needs air pockets around the roots to breathe. So, when the soil becomes soggy or waterlogged, the plant chokes and drowns from a lack of oxygen. Consequently, the pothos loses turgor pressure, resulting in wilting and drooping leaves.


If you notice the soil feeling overly wet or soggy, skip irrigating the pothos to allow the potting mix to dry out, ensuring that your pothos bounces back to health.

Also, ensure that the pot has adequate drainage holes to minimize the chances of overwatering.

Low Humidity Can Cause Droopy Leaves

Pothos thrive in warm, humid environments with 50 to 70% moisture levels. So, if you place the pothos plant in an arid climate, the leaves may droop.


Increase the humidity by placing a humidifier near the pothos plant or using a spray bottle to mist the foliage. Additionally, avoid placing the plant near a heater or air conditioner.

Cold Weather Can Cause Droopy Leaves

If you keep your pothos plant outdoors, it can develop droopy, shriveled foliage during freezing temperatures. The newer leaves are especially susceptible to damage and drooping.


Unfortunately, you cannot do much to treat the affected areas of the pothos plant. However, you can bring the plant inside for the winter and avoid placing it near an air conditioner.

Yellowing Leaves Indicate A Dying Pothos

While natural aging can cause the older pothos leaves to turn yellow and drop, the foliage can also turn yellow for various reasons.

Overwatering Can Cause Yellowing Pothos Leaves

The most prevalent cause of yellowing leaves in pothos is improper soil moisture – in particular, overwatering.

When the excessive water sits in the soil for a long time, the roots cannot access the necessary oxygen to thrive and stay healthy. In turn, the leaves turn yellow.

Root rot caused by overwatering can also cause the pothos leaves to turn yellow.


Water the pothos less frequently and ensure it receives ample indirect light to encourage the soil to dry out quickly. More so, provide a container with generous drainage holes to prevent soggy soil.

If you notice that the pothos roots are mushy, consider trimming the darkened and soggy roots to ensure that the pothos does not die from root rot.

Underwatering Can Cause Yellowing Pothos Leaves

While the general advice to water a pothos plant is watering the plant when the soil is dry, this non-specific advice can be pretty challenging to gauge.

If you notice that the leaves turn yellow and crispy, your pothos can be underwatered.


Consider aerating the soil and slowly pouring water over the soil’s surface until it seeps through the bottom of the pot.

Then, moving forward, ensure to watch out for parched soil to prevent yellowing leaves in the future.

Low Light Can Cause Yellowing Pothos Leaves

Although the pothos has a “low-light” label, they still need light to survive.

If your pothos doesn’t have enough access to light, the leaves struggle to produce chlorophyll and photosynthesize to maintain the bright green color. In turn, the foliage turns yellow.


Place the pothos in bright, indirect sunlight. For example, you can place the plant close to a window with moderate light and filter the sunlight with a sheer curtain.

Overfertilization Can Cause Yellowing Pothos Leaves

We often make the mistake of overfertilizing our pothos plant with the hope of encouraging fuller, faster-growing plants. However, overfertilization is generally more problematic than under-fertilization.

The excess salts and chemicals seep away from the moisture in the soil and create a toxic environment, resulting in stunted growth and yellowing leaves.


Consider using a balanced liquid fertilizer every four weeks during the plant’s growing season (summer).

Various Leaves Turning Brown Indicate A Dying Pothos

We all know how frustrating and concerning it can be when our pothos plant leaves turn brown. There are multiple factors at play, which we can quickly fix with minor adjustments.

Overwatering Can Cause Browning Pothos Leaves

Pothos typically thrive in dry and warm climates, making over-watering the number one culprit behind browning leaves.

When there’s too much water in the potted plant’s soil, the excess water blocks the oxygen supply to the pothos roots, causing root rot.

When the roots gradually die out, it hampers the supply of essential nutrients from the soil to the leaves and stems, leading to browning leaves.


The frequency and amount of watering will depend on the plant’s size, location, and climate.

A general rule is to water the pothos until the soil is moist or when the water runs through the pot’s bottom drainage holes. Then, patiently wait (about a week or two) for the potting mix to dry out before watering it again.

Excessive Direct Light Can Cause Browning Pothos Leaves

Overexposure to bright, direct sunlight can scorch the pothos leaves, causing them to turn brown. In addition, the highly variegated varieties typically have brown sunburn marks on the white or cream spots.


Prevent exposing the pothos to bright, direct sunlight. Instead, place your pothos plant in a location with moderate or bright, indirect sunlight.

Consider using a sheer curtain to filter the light to prevent browning foliage. 

Overfertilization Can Cause Browning Pothos Leaves

Overfertilization can cause fertilizer burn.

Fertilizer burn is another form of scorching the leaves. The excess nitrogen salts will shock the pothos and slowly kill it; brown foliage is one of the first indications you may be overfertilizing the pothos.


Consider using a balanced liquid fertilizer every four weeks during the plant’s growing season (summer).

Cold Temperatures Can Cause Browning Pothos Leaves

While pothos plants tend to withstand various temperatures, the ideal range is between 70°F and 90°F.

If your pothos gets too cold for a prolonged period or regularly, it can go into temperature shock, causing the leaves to turn black.


If you keep your pothos plant outside, ensure that you move it during the fall and winter to prevent temperature stressors. More so, place the plant in a warmer room with medium sunlight exposure to prevent browning leaves.

Pests Can Cause Browning Pothos Leaves

Pests, including mealybugs, scale, and spider mites, are common invaders on a pothos plant.

These insects tend to weaken the plant’s immune system as the tiny critters suck the juice from the plant, resulting in brown leaves. The brown spots can also have a yellow ring forming around them.

Note that infections are generally encouraged by environmental issues such as high humidity or poor air circulation.


Ensure you keep your pothos clean to help prevent infestations. Dust the foliage with a cloth weekly to keep your pothos pest-free.

Then, if your pothos already has an infestation, consider using insecticidal soap, neem oil, and rubbing alcohol to get rid of these pests effectively.

Lastly, you may want to double-check the aeration and humidity of your pothos plant’s room to stop the leaves from turning brown.

Wilting Leaves Indicate A Dying Pothos

A pothos leaves can wilt for various reasons. However, the two primary reasons include under-or-overwatering and prolonged exposure to intense light.

Underwatering A Pothos Can Cause Wilting

An underwatered pothos will start to display weak, flaccid, and wilting foliage, indicating that the plant is dying.

When the soil stays dry for too long, the roots cannot spread water and nutrients to the various plant leaves. As a result, the pothos leaves curl and wilt.

While pothos performs best when you allow its soil to dry somewhat between waterings, it doesn’t like the dry ground for too long.


Increase your watering schedule to once every week or second week, depending on the season, temperature, and humidity. However, you can water the pothos more frequently until it recovers appropriately.

Deeply water the pothos when the soil dries out and ensure you allow the water to run through the bottom of the container.

Overwatering A Pothos Can Cause Wilting

Overwatering and soggy soil can result in wilting leaves.The pothos requires air pockets in the ground to breathe.

The soggy or waterlogged soil can drown it from an oxygen shortage when you overwater the plant. As a result, overwatering results in wilting and drooping leaves.


If you notice the soil is soggy, skip watering the plant for several days to allow the ground to dry. More so, ensure that your plant your pothos in a pot with adequate bottom drainage holes to minimize the chances of water-logged soil.

Low Humidity Can Cause Wilting

Humidity is a common factor that affects the health of the pothos.

Pothos flourish in humid environments with a moisture level between 50 to 70%. However, if you place the plant in an arid climate with a moisture level below 35%, the foliage and branches may start to wilt.


Increase the plant’s humidity by investing in a humidifier or mist the foliage using a spray bottle.

Then, keep the plant away from air vents, heaters, and air conditioning.

Environmental Stress Can Cause Wilting

Despite its hardiness, the pothos can experience wilting from extreme temperature fluctuations.

When you move the pothos outdoors for summer or indoors for winter, the plant can experience shock from the sudden temperature changes. The newer leaves are especially susceptible to damage and wilting in both cases.


A pothos will gradually adjust to its atmosphere, recovering from wilting leaves.

However, to minimize the stress, only gradually move the pothos from outdoor to indoor, and the other way round by keeping it the new location for a few hours initially. Then, increase the hours till the plant acclimates to the new conditions.

Leggy Growth Can Indicate A Dying Pothos

Despite all the care you give to a pothos plant, it can end up with various distressing signs. While leggy growth does not necessarily mean that the pothos is dying, it is sure that it needs a different care regimen.

The two issues you need to understand are low light and overfertilization.

Low Light Can Cause Leggy Growth

The lack of light exposure can lead to leggy growth as the seedings will rapidly stem the new growth in height to reach the direction of the available light.

Low light can lead to slow photosynthesis in the pothos. So, it remains low on energy and fails to grow healthy stems. Instead, they grow spindly with fewer leaves as the plant doesn’t have enough power to produce too many leaves.

So, while the pothos stretches and grow, the plant does not have the girth and strength to support the new foliage development. In turn, the pothos has lesser leaves and thin, fragile, stretched-out stems.

More so, uneven lighting can cause spindly growth on the side that receives inefficient light exposure.


The only way to fix leggy growth from low light is to supply efficient and even light exposure. More so, try to provide even light by rotating the pothos every few days to ensure each part receives sufficient sunlight.

Overfertilization Can Cause Leggy Growth

Out of mere excitement and passion, you may want to feed your pothos a little more to ensure a bushy plant. However, this is unfortunately not the case. Overfertilization can cause various issues, one of them being leggy growth.

Fertilizers are full of nitrogen, responsible for boosting growth. However, instead of promoting a lush and bushy appearance, it will cause leggy growth when used in excess.

Note that overfertilization can harm the plant, so it’s best to stick to recommended dosages.


First, wash the soil to flush all the excess fertilizer. Next, prune the leggy growth to a desirable appearance.

Lastly, only fertilize the pothos during the growing season and stick to recommended dosages.

Curling Leaves Can Indicate A Dying Pothos

Curling leaves are another tell-tale sign that your pothos isn’t happy with its current care regimen.

While various factors come into play when curling leaves, water is mostly the culprit. However, excess light exposure and pests can also cause curling foliage.

Underwatering Can Cause Curling Pothos Leaves

Underwatering is the primary cause for pothos leaves curling.

Pothos plants efficiently retain water, making them pretty forgiving when you forget to water them occasionally.

However, even though these plants don’t need frequent watering as many others, regular and good watering routines are crucial to keeping them healthy.


First, aerate the soil and water the plant until it runs through the pot’s bottom drainage holes. Then, water the pothos every week when the soil feels dry to the touch.

Excess Light Exposure Can Cause Curling Pothos Leaves

Excessive exposure to direct sunlight will cause the soil’s water to evaporate faster by speeding up transpiration, causing the leaves to lose moisture more quickly than they can recover it. In turn, the leaves start to curl from a lack of water.


If your pothos is in direct sunlight, we advise moving to a spot with bright, indirect light. In addition, if you keep the pothos near a window, consider using a sheer curtain to block direct sun exposure.

Pests Can Cause Curling Pothos Leaves

Pests like aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, and scale suck on the pothos plant’s sap and multiply rapidly. This infestation weakens the plant, and the foliage tends to curl as a sign of distress.

Severe infestations can cause your pothos to die.


Thoroughly inspect the pothos for signs of pests. If infested, prune the badly infected parts of the plant.

Then, use dish soap, horticultural oil, or fungicides to control and eliminate these stubborn pests.


Is My Pothos Overwatered Or Underwatered?

Over or underwatering displays many of the same signs, So it becomes tricky to distinguish the cause unless you inspect the soil.

If the soil is soggy and moist, the pothos is overwatered. In comparison, if the soil is arid, the pothos might be underwatered.

However, note that damage from overwatering is generally from prolonged exposure to wet conditions, so the damage will remain long after the soil dries.

How To Treat Powdery Mildew On A Pothos?

To start, remove the infected plants of the pothos and discard them. Then, apply a fungicide – preferably look for one with potassium bicarbonate, neem oil, or sulfur.

Reapply the fungicides every 7 to 14 days and follow the labeled instructions.

How To Prevent Root Rot For Pothos?

Root rot is typically a case of excessive moisture that reduces airflow, suffocates the roots, or encourages fungal and bacterial spore development.

Ensure proper watering and drainage to ensure the potting soil is never saturated. More so, it’s best to water the pothos deeply but less often, allowing the ground to dry out between watering.


As we mentioned earlier, many factors can contribute to a dying pothos plant.

So, before deciding on a treatment to rescue your houseplant evaluate the culprit and remember that prevention is more manageable than curing a plant.